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Holy Cross Student Rower Killed in Florida Crash


A student at College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts on her way to rowing practice in Florida was killed Wednesday morning when a pickup slammed into a passenger van carrying several members of the women’s crew team, according to local authorities and the college.

In an email to faculty and students, the college identified the student as Grace Rett, a member of the class of 2022. According to the police, Ms. Rett, who turned 20 the day before the crash, died from her injuries at the scene.

Chief David Currey of the Vero Beach Police Department told reporters that 13 people were injured in the accident, including several members of the Holy Cross team. Their names were not immediately released.

“There are definitely some serious injuries involved,” Chief Currey said.

Eight victims, including both drivers, were transported to the trauma center at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said. On Wednesday afternoon, three were in critical condition, three were in serious condition and two were in good condition.

Five people, including Ms. Rett, were transported to Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, according a spokeswoman for the facility. Four women were treated and released this morning, she added.

“The college is in contact with the families of our students and with authorities in Florida,” said John Hill, a college spokesman. “We are in the process of gathering more information and making plans to offer support for those involved.”

Brian Colgan, the director of Vero Beach Rowing, a community boathouse, said the Holy Cross team was in Florida for a week of preseason training at the facility. The group was heading to morning practice when the accident occurred.

“It’s such a tragedy,” Mr. Colgan said. “There’s been a tremendous outpouring of support for the families that are coming down.”

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Credit…College of the Holy Cross

Chief Currey said that officers responded to reports of the crash minutes before 7:30 a.m. at Indian River Boulevard and the Merrill P. Barber Bridge.

According to a preliminary investigation, Chief Currey said, the van, which was carrying about 12 members of the team, was traveling south when it made a left turn to go over the bridge. A man driving north in a red Dodge pickup slammed into the front passenger side of the van, where Ms. Rett was sitting, he said.

“To my knowledge, she was wearing her seatbelt,” Chief Currey said.

He said that the accident remained under investigation and that no charges had been filed.

About 20 members of the crew team, including coaches, had been traveling in two vans. The second van, which was behind the first, was not involved in the crash. But those team members witnessed it.

“Obviously, they are not doing well,” Chief Currey said. “But physically, they’re doing much better.”

“Our entire Holy Cross community is mourning today,” Marcus Blossom, the college’s athletic director, said in a statement. “Our prayers are with Grace’s family and all those injured in today’s events. We ask for everyone’s thoughts and prayers.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Blossom, along with the college’s president and members of the chaplaincy, traveled to Florida. Hundreds of students attended a brief gathering at a campus athletics complex where chaplains and counselors offered support, according to the school.

The men’s basketball game against Army West Point scheduled for Wednesday evening was postponed until 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Michele Murray, the dean of students at Holy Cross, described Ms. Rett as “incredibly passionate and hardworking.”

“Grace was a light to all who knew her,” she said at a news conference.

Ms. Rett, a sophomore at the college in Worcester, Mass., was studying English and psychology, the school said in a statement. She recently set a record rowing for 62 straight hours on an indoor machine and spoke to The Worcester Telegram about her feat.

“It was mostly a mental challenge,” she said, “which I was up for.”

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